Review: Mandarin Orchard Singapore Staycation

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With dated rooms and a tiny pool, the Mandarin Orchard won't be the ideal staycation experience for all- but how about that view from the club lounge?

The Mandarin Orchard may not be the swankiest hotel in Singapore, but it’s certainly one of the largest. With 1,077 rooms in the heart of Orchard Road, the 173-meter building (formerly known as the Mandarin Singapore and Meritus Mandarin Singapore) was briefly the tallest in Singapore when it opened back in 1971. 

Mandarin Orchard Hotel
Mandarin Orchard Hotel

I decided to do my next staycation review at the Mandarin Orchard because: 

  • it’s a solid mid-tier option, good for those who want traditional hotel facilities without splurging 
  • it has a club lounge (situated in a former revolving restaurant, no less!), which would be a chance to see how service routines and happy hour spreads have changed during COVID-19
  • it’s set to undergo a S$90M renovation before relaunching as the largest Hilton in Asia Pacific in 2022, so why not do a before and after comparison?
📋 In This Review
🏨 Other Staycation Reviews
Crowne Plaza Changi Airport | Conrad Singapore | Hotel 81 Tristar | Hotel Soloha | Outpost HotelRaffles Hotel | The Barracks Hotel | W Hotel Sentosa Cove | YOTELAIR Changi Airport

Booking a Mandarin Orchard Staycation

Update: Mandarin Orchard has ended the Club Indulgence staycation package early. There is a similar offer for KrisFlyer members that costs S$228++ (S$268 nett) per night

Since receiving approval to take staycation guests on July 15, the Mandarin Orchard has been offering a “Club Indulgence” staycation package for S$208++ (S$245 nett) per night. 

🏨 Club Indulgence
  • 1 night in Deluxe Room
  • Complimentary upgrade upon availability
  • Access to Meritus Club Lounge
  • Daily breakfast
Book By 30 Nov 2020
Stay By 30 Nov 2020
Note: When this package initially launched, it included early check-in & late check-out (upon availability) and a 50% discount on food at Triple Three. These have since been removed. As at the time of writing, the only dates available for this package are in October and November 2020. 

This represents a decent rate for a room with club lounge access, and my intention was to pay for it using statement credit redeemed with AMEX Membership Rewards (MR) points.

A S$245 charge would be ~25,521 MR points, equivalent to 25,521 Marriott Bonvoy points. Given that Marriott properties in Singapore would cost at least 30,000-40,000 points per night (without breakfast or lounge access), I was perfectly happy with that. 

Before arrival, you may receive an upsell email from the Mandarin Orchard, offering a fixed-price upgrade. I didn’t bother, because (1) my rate already included a space-available upgrade and (2) I already had club lounge access. 

It’s interesting to see the prices, however. Paying S$208++ for a base room and then S$180++/S$360++ more for an Executive/Regency Suite isn’t worth it, in my opinion, given that non-refundable rates are S$374++/S$524++ respectively. 

Mandarin Orchard: Arrival and Check-in

In line with the STB’s restrictions on maximum density during Phase 2, the Mandarin Orchard is practicing staggered check-in. Upon confirming your room, the reservations team will request you to select a check-in slot (a maximum of 30 guests can be accommodated per slot):

  • 2:00 – 2:30 p.m
  • 2:30 – 3:00 p.m
  • 3:00 – 3:30 p.m
  • 3:30 – 4:00 p.m
  • 4:00 – 4:30 p.m
  • 4:30 – 5:00 p.m
  • 5:00 – 5:30 p.m
  • 5:30 – 6:00 p.m

Now, the hotel’s official check-in time is 2 p.m, so none of these timings represent early check-in. Since the Club Indulgence package I booked offered this, I emailed the hotel to ask what time I could come down. 

The response I got was confusing, to say the least:

Please be informed that early check in can only be known upon arrival at the check in counter. Should there are rooms available upon your arrival, we will certainly provide the room for you.

But if all guests show up at whatever time they wish hoping to score a room early, doesn’t that kind of defeat the purpose in pre-assigning check-in slots? Moreover, on the odd chance that everyone shows up at the same time, doesn’t that create the very sort of overcrowding problem you were trying to avoid?

So I totally don’t understand the system, but still headed down at 11 a.m anyway to try my luck.

Orchard Road devotees will find it almost impossible to miss the Mandarin Orchard. It’s right smack in the center of the action, sandwiched between Ngee Ann City and Cineleisure. 

Mandarin Orchard driveway
Mandarin Orchard driveway
Mandarin Orchard driveway
Mandarin Orchard driveway

Although actual check-in is on level 5, all visitors will undergo the usual SafeEntry registration and temperature check ritual on the ground floor. 

Mandarin Orchard hotel entrance
Mandarin Orchard hotel entrance

The ground floor was…depressing. It looked like a hollowed-out shell, with some areas closed, others cordoned off with makeshift barriers, and a pervading sense of darkness (the sunken driveway of the hotel doesn’t help). It definitely didn’t give the best of first impressions, and I couldn’t tell if this was because of COVID-19, or in preparation for the hotel’s upcoming renovations. 

Ground floor area
Ground floor area

Fortunately, the level 5 reception area was much nicer, and featured high ceilings with full length glass panels to let in natural light. It was also completely empty when I arrived. 

Mandarin Orchard Level 5 Lobby
Mandarin Orchard Level 5 Lobby
Mandarin Orchard Level 5 Lobby
Mandarin Orchard Level 5 Lobby
Mandarin Orchard Level 5 Lobby
Mandarin Orchard Level 5 Lobby

Despite all my years as a Marriott elite, I don’t think I ever once checked-in at the club lounge. In fact, I was always confused about how that worked. Lounges usually require a key card controlled elevator to access, and how would you even get there in the first place, short of waltzing up to the counter and asking? And if you did that, couldn’t you just as well check-in at the counter? 

But I wanted the novelty, and asked the front desk associate whether I could check in at the lounge. She looked up my reservation…and promptly started checking me in at the lobby anyway ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

To my surprise, a room was available immediately, and I even got an upgrade to an Executive Suite. The Club Indulgence package does include a space-available upgrade, but I was expecting more of a “high floor” pseudo upgrade.

There was one catch though- they wanted the room back at 11 a.m the next day. Now, I realise the 6 p.m late check-out is “subject to availability”, but it’s kind of a buzzkill to put the idea in the guest’s head and then ask them to leave before lunch. With some negotiation I got them to offer 12 p.m, but that’s as good as it got. 

A credit card deposit was taken (tourists beware, the Mandarin Orchard participates in DCC!), and I was off to my room. 

Beware DCC

A little lay of the land first: There are two wings in the hotel, connected via the main lobby on Level 5.

If your room number (last one digit for floors 8 and 9, last two digits otherwise) runs from 1-29, you’ll be in the Orchard Wing. 

Orchard Wing
Orchard Wing

The Orchard Wing also houses:

  • Imperial Ballroom (Level 35)
  • Shisen Hanten (Level 35)
  • Meritus Club Lounge  (Level 38 & 39)

If your room number runs from 30-45, you’ll be in the Main Tower. 

Main Tower
Main Tower

The Main Tower also houses:

  • Grange Ballroom (Level 5)
  • Grand Mandarin Ballroom (Level 6)
  • Tennis Courts (Level 8)
  • Mandarin Meeting Suites (Level 8)
  • Gym (Level 37)

FYI, the Main Tower is currently being used to accommodate guests serving SHNs. All other guests will stay in the Orchard Wing.

SHN sign
SHN reminder

Executive Suite

There are nine different room types at the Mandarin Orchard.

  Maximum 
Occupancy
Size
Deluxe Room 3 28 sqm
Superior Deluxe Room 3 28 sqm
Premier Room 3 33 sqm
Family Room 4 70 sqm
Meritus Club Room 3 28 sqm
Meritus Club Premier Room 3 49 sqm
Executive Suite 3 52 sqm
Regency Suite 3 70 sqm
Presidential Suite 3 154 sqm

The Club Indulgence package books you into a Deluxe Room, but as mentioned, I’d received an upgrade to an Executive Suite. 

My room was 3217, on the 32nd floor of the Orchard Wing (I almost said Orchard Tower, which is strange because I have absolutely no idea what that place is whatsoever).

Room key
Room key

My first impression of the suite? Time to party like it’s 1999. While I appreciated the extra space, the decor is undeniably dated. The room looks like it would have been swish around the turn of the century, but gold picture frames, beige drapes, glass-top tables and recliner armchairs just feel tired right now. 

Executive Suite Living Room
Executive Suite Living Room
Executive Suite Living Room
Executive Suite Living Room

The Executive Suite is basically two standard rooms joined together, which creates enough space for a large living room with couch and recliner. It’s a pity that the TV is on the small side though, because at 40 inches, the viewing distance is far from optimal. 

Executive Suite TV options
Executive Suite TV options

The living room and bedroom can be physically separated by closing a sliding door. They also have their own thermostats, so each room can have its own microclimate. 

Executive Suite Living Room
Executive Suite Living Room

The glass-top work desk had a very comfortable chair, a universal power socket, and an Ethernet cable. 

Executive Suite Work Desk
Executive Suite Work Desk
Executive Suite Power Outlets
Executive Suite Power Outlets

I set up my laptop to test the Wi-Fi speed, and was completely blown away. This was the first hotel where I achieved triple digit download and upload speeds, and the connection was even quicker than the one I had at home. 

So let it be known: the Mandarin Orchard’s rooms may be dated, but its internet speeds are decidedly cutting-edge. 

  🔽 Download 🔼 Upload
Mandarin Orchard 273 Mbps 294 Mbps
YOTELAir Changi 29 Mbps 49 Mbps
W Sentosa Cove 34 Mbps 34 Mbps
The Barracks Hotel 7.3 Mbps 7.7 Mbps
Hotel 81 Tristar 7.0 Mbps 6.8 Mbps
Raffles Hotel 6.9 Mbps 6.8 Mbps
Hotel Soloha 4.7 Mbps 5.1 Mbps

At the entrance foyer there’s also a small guest bathroom.

Entrance foyer
Entrance foyer
Guest bathroom
Guest bathroom

The bedroom had a king-sized bed with another recliner in the corner. Behind the headboard was a large mirror broken up into six panels, presumably to make the room feel larger than it already was. 

Executive Suite Bedroom
Executive Suite Bedroom
Executive Suite Bedroom
Executive Suite Bedroom
Executive Suite Bedroom
Executive Suite Bedroom

Unfortunately, neither bedside table had charging outlets nor USB ports, a glaring omission in this day and age. To charge your devices overnight, you’ll need to leave them on the work desk in the living room. 

Port bedside table
Bedside table
Bedside table
Bedside table

Beneath the television you’ll find a mini-bar, or at least, what’s left of it. I’m still unclear as to what the rules regarding the mini-bar are; in some hotels (Hotel Soloha) I’ve found it completely emptied out, while in others (W Sentosa) they’re fully stocked like nothing changed. If you want bottled water, you’ll find four bottles beneath the TV in the living room. 

Mini-bar
Mini-bar

The cupboard had a striking red interior, perhaps to match the red uniforms worn by the female hotel associates. Inside were two bathrobes, an ironing board, slippers, an umbrella, and a safe. 

Cupboard
Cupboard

The bathroom was large, with a separate shower and tub area. With all the space, it’s a shame they didn’t go for his-and-hers sinks, but that meant more counter top storage. 

Executive Suite Bathroom
Executive Suite Bathroom
Executive Suite Bathroom
Executive Suite Bathroom

Although the shower looked promising, what with all its fancy nozzles, water pressure was extremely weak. At first I thought it was because I had both the hand shower and shower panel running at the same time, but even with just one on, the water flow was indolent at best. 

Shower
Shower

Bathroom amenities were by ETRO, an upmarket brand that can be also found on Crystal Cruises and Japan Airlines. 

ETRO bathroom amenities
ETRO bathroom amenities

As per my understanding, these are a step up from the regular rooms where Meritus uses its own house brand toiletries. 

Regular Mandarin Orchard bathroom amenities
Regular Mandarin Orchard bathroom amenities | Photo Credit: The Shutterwhale

Also provided are two toothbrush kits (with Colgate, instead of that AME knock-off some hotels use), a shower cap, sanitary bag, sewing kit, emery board, shaving kit and comb. 

Bathroom amenities
Bathroom amenities

To sum up the room: while it’s clean, comfortable and spacious, there’s the unshakable feeling that it’s caught in a time capsule of sorts. I understand these are due for a makeover when the hotel converts into a Hilton, and that can’t happen soon enough. 

Executive Suite
Executive Suite

Mandarin Orchard: Meritus Club Lounge

Meritus Club Lounge
Meritus Club Lounge

As the name suggests, the Club Indulgence package grants you Meritus Club Lounge privileges. The lounge is open from 6.30 a.m – 11 p.m on weekdays (7 a.m -11 p.m) on weekends, and serves: 

  • Daily breakfast
  • Daily afternoon tea
  • Daily evening cocktails and hors d’oeuvres

The hotel is capping the maximum capacity of the lounge to 40 people at a time, which means it’s crucial to make reservations. Do note that the lounge is only open to guests above 18 years of age. I didn’t see any children the whole time I was there, so I guess they enforce this pretty strictly. 

Meritus Club Lounge benefits
Meritus Club Lounge benefits

The Meritus Club Lounge at Top of the M (what a mouthful) is located at the top floor of the hotel, spread across levels 38 and 39. As far as I know, this makes it the only two storey club lounge in Singapore, perhaps even in Asia. 

The reason for this unique layout is that this space used to host the revolving Top of the M restaurant. After the restaurant closed down, it hosted Chatterbox for a period, before being redeveloped into a club lounge in 2014. 

Club lounge reception
Club lounge reception

The elevator brings you to the reception area on level 38. Although there’s some tables and chairs scattered across this floor, you’ll almost certainly never be seated here unless the overflow on level 39 reaches critical levels. 

Level 38 seating
Level 38 seating

Level 38 is where the lounge’s business centre and meeting room are located, as well as the toilets. 

Club lounge business centre
Club lounge business centre

Climb the staircase to level 39, and you’ll be in the lounge proper. 

Staircase to level 39
Staircase to level 39

It struck me as a little strange that there was no host at the top of the staircase on waiting to welcome and seat guests. Once you climb the stairs, you’re pretty much left to your own devices- pick a seat and wait for someone to serve you. Most people caught on pretty quickly, but there were a handful who waited at the top of the stairs, expecting a staff member to usher them to a table. 

Meritus Club Lounge Level 39
Meritus Club Lounge Level 39

Even though the revolving mechanism was removed a long time ago, you can see relics of how it used to work. The outer circle rotated, while the inner circle featured static seating for those prone to motion sickness. 

Meritus Club Lounge Level 39
Meritus Club Lounge Level 39
Meritus Club Lounge Level 39
Meritus Club Lounge Level 39
Meritus Club Lounge Level 39
Meritus Club Lounge Level 39

The height of the lounge (you’re approximately 170 metres off the ground) means it has commanding views of the surrounding area, and you can see all the way to MBS. 

View from Meritus Club Lounge
View from Meritus Club Lounge
View from Meritus Club Lounge
View from Meritus Club Lounge

There’s a different kind of beauty on rainy days too, where you can sometimes feel you’re standing among the clouds. 

View from Meritus Club Lounge- rainy day
View from Meritus Club Lounge- rainy day

Afternoon Tea

Afternoon tea is served from 3 to 5 p.m daily. Don’t expect a Raffles Hotel style three-tiered tea stand, with trimmings and bubbly. This is decidedly a more prosaic affair, although on the plus side, it’s absolutely free. 

Two plates are brought to your table (I assume you can ask for seconds, but didn’t try), together with a choice of hot or cold beverage. The first plate has two kinds of scones (plain and raisin, with jam and clotted cream) and two kinds of sliders (black bread with cheese, mini smoked salmon burger). 

Afternoon tea set
Afternoon tea set

The postlude consists of three desserts- a chocolate bun, strawberry swiss roll, and tiramisu. 

Afternoon tea set
Afternoon tea set

Again, it’s hard to criticise when it’s basically free, but you shouldn’t feel too bad if you give this one a miss. 

Evening Cocktails

Evening cocktails and canapes are served from 6 to 8 p.m daily

Despite the name, there aren’t actually any cocktails available. Guests will instead choose from a small list of wines (red, white, and happily enough, sparkling), beer and soft drinks. 

Happy hour beverage list
Happy hour beverage list

Although the drinks list says the sparkling wine is an Australian Brut, it’s actually an Extra Dry Italian Prosecco. Extra Dry (2.8g sugar) is one rung sweeter than Brut (2g sugar), so if you’re watching your calories that’s something to note. 

Prosecco during evening cocktails
Prosecco during evening cocktails

Traditional club lounge cocktail hours would see guests helping themselves to a self-serve buffet, but since that’s currently not permitted, canapes are plated and brought directly to your table from the central kitchen. You’re of course allowed to request for seconds or thirds, if you so wish. 

Canapes spread
Canapes spread

A total of four plates make up one canapes set. This includes cheese, crackers and fruits…

Cheese, crackers and fruit
Cheese, crackers and fruit

…a selection of smoked fish and cold cuts…

Smoked fish and cold cuts
Smoked fish and cold cuts

…and my favourite of all, the hot plate. This featured a baked salmon cube, vegetarian fried dumpling, penne pasta with ratatouille topping, and a hash brown that had this intriguing sweet glaze on it. It sounds disgusting when I say it aloud, but it tasted really good. 

Hot plate canapes
Hot plate canapes

They served the same dessert tray as during tea time…

Dessert tray
Dessert tray Part 1

…but redeemed themselves by bringing out a new one shortly after. Perhaps they were just trying to finish off the leftovers from tea first. 

Dessert tray Part 2
Dessert tray Part 2

As an added bonus, the club lounge gets some exquisite sunset views in the evening. Sit near the window where you can see the “Mandarin Orchard” sign for the best spot.

Sunset view from Club Lounge
Sunset view from Club Lounge

Mandarin Orchard Singapore: Facilities

Pool Gym Spa
Yes: 6 a.m to 7 p.m Yes: 24 hours No
Kids’ Club Business Centre Others
No Yes Tennis courts
(currently closed)

Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, both the swimming pool and gym require advance reservations. These slots can only be booked after you’ve checked in, which is another reason to arrive early. 

Swimming pool

For a property with 1,077 rooms, the swimming pool at the Mandarin Orchard is tiny. I eyeballed it as 15 meters long by 6 meters in width, and with current social distancing measures, a maximum of just five people can be in the swimming pool area at any one time (that’s the area, mind, not just the pool). 

Mandarin Orchard Swimming Pool
Mandarin Orchard Swimming Pool
Mandarin Orchard Swimming Pool
Mandarin Orchard Swimming Pool
Mandarin Orchard Swimming Pool
Mandarin Orchard Swimming Pool

Pool slots are allocated by the hour, and with just 13 hours of pool time available each day, a maximum of 65 guests can enjoy the pool daily. Assuming two guests per room, that’s barely 3% of the hotel’s capacity, and woefully inadequate. 

Should you be one of the lucky few, you might think you’ve won the jackpot by having a semi-private pool. Not really. The pool is located just next to the level 5 lobby, and although they’ve attempted to put up some privacy screens, it’s not that difficult for someone on the lobby side to spot you in all your bathing suited glory, whether in the pool or on the sunbeds. It’s also much easier to see out to the pool than see in to the lobby (due to the lighting differential), so if you don’t like the feeling that someone’s watching you, this might not be your cup of tea. 

Pool privacy screen
Pool privacy screen

For that reason, I simply can’t recommend the Mandarin Orchard for those whose idea of a staycation involves extended periods of frolicking at the pool. 

Gym

The Mandarin Orchard’s gym is located on level 37 of the Main Tower and open 24 hours a day. You’ll first need to visit the concierge on level 5 to do a temperature check and get a special key. I don’t understand why they couldn’t just let you use your room key for the gym and do the temperature check over there, but perhaps it’s because the gym isn’t manned 24 hours a day. 

Once you’ve got the key, there’s still some hunting to do. The Main Tower elevator will only take you as far as level 36. After that, you’ll need to look for the fitness centre signs…

Way to fitness centre
Way to fitness centre

…enter the stairwell behind a door which looks like one you shouldn’t be opening…

Way to fitness centre
Way to fitness centre

…and climb one floor to level 37. The gym is then up a further half flight of stairs. 

Fitness centre entrance
Fitness centre entrance

The gym itself seems pretty well equipped, with the usual assortment of cardio and strength-training equipment. 

Mandarin Orchard gym
Mandarin Orchard gym
Mandarin Orchard gym
Mandarin Orchard gym

It’s most crowded in the early morning and early evening; when I came by at 2 p.m it was deserted. 

Mandarin Orchard gym
Mandarin Orchard gym
Mandarin Orchard gym
Mandarin Orchard gym
Mandarin Orchard gym
Mandarin Orchard gym
Mandarin Orchard gym
Mandarin Orchard gym

As expected, not all machines are in use due to social distancing measures. 

Gym equipment out of service due to safe distancing measures
Gym equipment out of service due to safe distancing measures
Gym equipment out of service due to safe distancing measures
Gym equipment out of service due to safe distancing measures

I was delighted to know the Mandarin Orchard has tennis courts, but was told they were currently closed “because COVID”. That’s odd, given how tennis ranks as one of the safest activities one can do during this time. 

Mandarin Orchard Singapore: Breakfast

Served at Cost Style
Meritus Club or
Chatterbox
S$28++ (Adult)
S$18++ (Child)
A la carte buffet
Hours Sparkling Wine? Discounts?
6.30 a.m (7.00 a.m on Weekdays & PH) to 10.00 a.m 
No None

All guests who book the Club Indulgence package will be able to have breakfast at the Meritus Club. 

Breakfast is served a la carte buffet style, with guests able to choose from four different sets. You can of course order multiple sets to try different things; there’s no limit. 

Meritus Club breakfast menu
Meritus Club breakfast menu

The American Breakfast Set includes eggs done to your liking, the usual breakfast meats, roasted tomato, mushrooms and potatoes. The menu mentioned baked beans, but they were MIA and I didn’t realise it until afterwards. 

American Breakfast Set
American Breakfast Set

The Congee Set consisted of chicken congee, dim sum and a soft-boiled egg. The congee tasted great (it had a certain thickness to it), but the egg was unfortunately overdone with the yolk completely set. 

Congee Set
Congee Set

I ordered the Noodle Set too, which was fairly unimpressive. The menu description says it comes with a soft-boiled egg too, but I assume that’s a typo (it’d be a rather non-traditional fish ball noodles in that case!). 

Noodle set
Noodle set

To accompany the sets, we ordered some pancakes and waffles. The pancakes were actually pretty good. They tasted like McDonald’s hotcakes, and while that may not be the pinnacle of pancake perfection, it’s certainly a lot better than what I’ve had at other hotels. 

Pancakes
Pancakes

The same could not be said about the waffles, sadly. Limp, cold and soggy, they were nibbled at, pushed around disinterestedly and quickly removed. 

Waffles
Waffles

Service at breakfast was prompt, with waiting times for food of no longer than 7-8 minutes. Although we missed our reservation slot (booked at 8 a.m and showed up at 9 a.m), there was no problem getting a seat. I think that’s a function of the day we were there, however, and I wouldn’t chance it on a weekend. 

Other Dining Options

Restaurant Status as of 14 August 2020
Bar on 5 Closed
Chatterbox Open
Coffee & Crust Open
Shisen Hanten Open
Triple Three Open

Triple Three

Our room rate came with 50% off at Triple Three, the hotel’s buffet restaurant. Due to the current COVID-19 situation, they’ve switched from a traditional buffet to an a la carte style buffet. 

Unfortunately, the restaurant is only open for dinner on weekdays, and was fully booked on the day we were there (Thursday). Had we been able to get a table, we’d have paid S$108++ per adult (S$48++ per child) for the following: 

Each night has certain special items, such as:

  • Mon & Tue: Foie Gras
  • Wed & Thu: Wagyu Beef
  • Fri & Sat & Sun lunch: Lobster Mentaiyaki
  • Sun: Free flow of Carlsberg Beer

With the 50% discount for in-house guests, I suppose the price becomes much more palatable. 

Chatterbox

Chatterbox Mandarin Orchard
Chatterbox Mandarin Orchard

Since Triple Three was full, we were directed to Chatterbox instead, where in-house guests also enjoy 50% off. 

Chatterbox Chicken Rice
Chatterbox Chicken Rice

You can’t come to Chatterbox and not have the Hainanese Chicken Rice (S$27++). They do some unconventional things with it (such as cooling the chicken under running water instead of plunging it into ice water), and I don’t think their chilli is anywhere as good as Boon Tong Kee’s, but it’s good for hotel chicken rice. 

Fun fact: the hotel has a policy of serving its chicken boneless, so you won’t get wings on your plate unless explicitly requested. All the wings get turned into salted egg chicken wings (S$20++), which we didn’t order this time round. 

Chatterbox Lobster Laksa

The other well-known dish here is the Chatterbox Lobster Laksa (S$38++). While the lobster is definitely on the small side with a paltry yield of meat, the broth is spot on. Whatever they do to create the seafood base for the laksa just works, and I may or may not have gulped down more than my fair share. 

I realise there are those who will balk at paying these prices for “hawker food”, but I’m perfectly happy to pay a bit more for premium ingredients. Besides, with 50% off, the overall damage was still tolerable. 

Mandarin Orchard Singapore Service

On the whole, I’d say service was good. With 1,000+ rooms, you’re hardly going to get individualized attention, but the few requests I had (mostly concerning bookings) were handled competently enough.

The servers in the lounge were very friendly, in particular the more senior staff. I do think it’d make a lot more sense to put a host on level 39 to greet and seat guests, however. 

Phase 2 Reflections

Safe Distancing sign at Mandarin Orchard
Safe Distancing sign at Mandarin Orchard

The biggest problem with doing a Phase 2 staycation at the Mandarin Orchard is that the density restrictions reduce the capacity of its already small facilities. Imagine a pool that can take just five people at a time, in a hotel with more than a thousand rooms. The math isn’t in your favor, even if you’re willing to go in the heat of the day or at the crack of dawn. 

I was fortunate enough to stay on a weekday, but I do think the club lounge would be straining at the hilt during weekends. With a maximum capacity of just 40 guests, you’ll want to make your bookings for breakfast, tea and cocktails as soon as possible (I emailed the concierge two weeks before arrival). 

My understanding from other friends who have stayed is that it’s also very tricky to get a same day table at Triple Three. If you want to fully utilize your 50% off on dining, be sure to book this well in advance. 

tl;dr: with the limited capacity at most of its facilities and venues, making early reservations could well make or break your staycation. 

Conclusion

Is the Mandarin Orchard a good staycation choice? If you want to be in the middle of Orchard Road and have a drink-yourself-silly happy hour accompanied by majestic views, sure. If you’d like modern rooms and great facilities, probably not. 

I’d be very interested to see what Hilton does with this property, and look forward to visiting again after its renovation. 

🏨 In Summary

The Mandarin Orchard is decidedly business-focused, and won’t be ideal for everyone. That said, the views from the club lounge are hard to beat, and at S$245 nett, is one of the better staycation deals for a club room. 

Do say: I stayed at Orchard Wing

Don’t say: I stayed at Orchard Tower

Aaron Wong
Aaron founded The Milelion with the intention of helping people travel better for less and impressing chiobu. He was 50% successful.

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Watcher

Curious what tea did they provide in the room haha

Raymond Wee

This is an awesome review as always. I really appreciate the little details and humour.

LANYC

One questions, why would anyone want to do this? Were there other guests like you?

Ong

Do what? LoL

invisible

Answering your question – I and my wife just came back staying for one night. And they currently are 90% booked on weekends.

Why people go there? Well ask my wife – after staying at home for 6 month without going to office she really needed to change environment and go somewhere. So either you go and have sessions with psychotherapist due to stress and depression or go and stay one night at a hotel. One night at a hotel is cheaper.

E j

I hated the pool when I stayed there before. Tiny and oddly located. Never stayed there again because of that.

Daniel

can i double check that from l38 to l39, sure must climb stairs?

Alian

Me thinks the high internet speed is due to low patronage. It’s a 1000 bedder hostel hotel so if it had 80% capacity I’d reckon it’d be more normal. But nice to know they have a decent backbone network.

great review as always. Thanks

ZYX

Is it because it’s closer to SingTel building?

Ben

Where are the black light pics

Alicia

Hi Aaron, how did you go about making a booking for breakfast, afternoon tea and evening cocktails at the club lounge? I’ve made a booking for September and I received the same email from the hotel regarding check-in but they didn’t mention anything about reserving for meals at the club lounge.

Alicia

I see. Thanks for replying and the neat review. Looking forward to our stay next month.

Lifshitz

Harbourview Renaissance HK has a two (technically three) level club lounge. Waaay tighter seating, though, but also great views.

Gwyn

I was looking at the hotel website, but it is just a normal room. How do i book the club room with club lounge room access for the rate you mentioned?

Last edited 2 months ago by Gwyn

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